James Van Der Beek's next acting role shouldn't prove to be much of stretch for him. That's because he's playing … James Van Der Beek.
The former "Dawson's Creek" star has signed on to the new ABC comedy pilot "Don't Trust the Bitch in Apt. 23" (don't be too surprised if the name changes) starring as himself opposite Dreama Walker, who's most recently been seen on the small screen as Becca on the CBS crime drama "The Good Wife."
Walker will be playing June, an earnest small-town girl who's forced to move in with party girl Chloe (Krysten Ritter, of "Gravity" and "Breaking Bad"), who happens to be best friends with Van Der Beek.
With this new role, the 33-year-old actor, who first gained fame with his portrayal of Dawson Leery in the late '90s-early 2000s drama "Dawson's Creek," steps into a grand television tradition — one some find a slightly overplayed tradition — of actors portraying themselves in starring TV roles.
That tradition includes the Jennifer Grey playing herself in the 1999 sitcom, "It's Like, You Know…" and Matt LeBlanc's current run as Matt LeBlanc on Showtime's "Episodes."
Larry David, playing Larry David on HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm," could also be included in the trend, with the caveat that at least he let Jason Alexander play a version of himself first on "Seinfeld."
On the movie front, Neil Patrick Harris did the playing-himself thing with his "trippin' balls" stint in the "Harold & Kumar" movies.
Is it a reaction to the age of reality TV, where the great unwashed are gaining celebrity just by being themselves, or merely an increasing willingness among actors to accept the ultimate form of typecasting?
It's hard to say, but one thing's for sure: When Van Der Beek's agent called him and told him, "I have a role you were born to play," he wasn't lying.